American Legion baseball: Belchertown rallies past Greenfield, 5-3, to punch district title-game ticket

  • Belchertown Post 239 batter Evan Hu hits a triple in the top of the fourth inning against Greenfield Post 81 during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield Post 81 baserunner Kyle Barnes, right, is tagged out by Belchertown Post 239 catcher Evan Hu after attempting to steal home plate during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Evan Hu, right, celebrates after scoring for Belchertown Post 239 in the top of the fourth inning against Greenfield Post 81 during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Belchertown Post 239 batter Ty Gladu hits an RBI single in the top of the fourth inning against Greenfield Post 81 during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield Post 81 batter Kyle Barnes hits a single against Belchertown Post 239 in the bottom of the third inning during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Belchertown Post 239 pitcher Nolan Sullivan throws against Greenfield Post 81 in the bottom of the third inning during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield Post 81 celebrates after scoring against Belchertown Post 239 in the bottom of the second inning during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield Post 81 pitcher Tyler Baronowski throws against Belchertown Post 239 in the top of the second inning during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield Post 81 third baseman Jake Sak pulls in a pop up for an out against Belchertown Post 239 in the top of the first inning during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield Post 81 pitcher Tyler Baranowski throws against Belchertown Post 239 in the top of the first inning during a Senior American Legion game Tuesday night at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 7/20/2021 10:06:42 PM

GREENFIELD – One big inning from the Belchertown Post 239 bats spoiled Greenfield Post 81’s hopes of making it to consecutive American Legion state tournaments. 

Trailing 3-1 going into the top of the sixth, Belchertown opened the inning with five straight hits that produced four runs to take the lead. The advantage held until the final out, with Post 239 earning a 5-3 win in the Western Mass. Senior Division District 3 semifinals at Vets Field. 

Belchertown advanced to play Westfield Post 124 on Wednesday with a spot in the state tournament on the line.

“We’re a good hitting club,” Belchertown coach EJ Mills said. “[Greenfield pitcher Tyler Baranowski] pitched a great game. He’s an off speed guy and he did a great job. You come through three, four times and you hope you can square a few up.” 

While the bats came alive in the sixth, Belchertown was able to stay in the game due to its pitching. 

Nolan Sullivan got the start and gave up a mere two hits in five innings of work, one a bunt single. Once Post 239 took the lead, it called upon Ty Gladu in relief, and he got all six batters he faced out, striking out four of them. 

“Nolan pitched his guts out,” Mills said. “He didn’t have his best stuff but rallied. Ty came in and it was strike, strike, strike. That’s what you need a reliever to do. That was key.” 

For Greenfield, the inability to put the ball in play proved to be fatal. Kyle Barnes and Dylan Martin had Post 81’s lone two hits, Barnes’ coming in the third and Martin’s in the fifth. 

Baranowski went the distance on the mound, striking out six and surrendering nine hits. 

“When you only get two hits and one is a bunt, you don’t deserve to win,” Greenfield coach Kevin Luippold said. “We still have a whole second season so we’re excited for that.” 

Greenfield took the lead in the second inning, with Ben Martino getting on with a walk and eventually stealing home after a missed pickoff throw to third by Belchertown. 

Post 81 tacked another run on the scoreboard in the third, with Martin — who reached on a walk — made it to third on Barnes’ single and scampered home on a wild pitch to go up, 2-0.

“We walked some guys, we threw the ball around,” Mills said. “We said throw the ball over the plate and make them hit the ball. Fortunately as the game progressed we didn’t walk guys.” 

Belchertown got its first hit off Baranowski to lead off the fourth, with Evan Hu smashing a triple to left field. Gladu followed and hit a single to send Hu home and cut the lead to 2-1. 

In the bottom of the fifth Greenfield put its final run across the plate. Post 81 loaded the bases with Brody Baird drawing a walk, Martin reaching on a single and Kyle Barnes walking, bringing David Carey to the plate. 

Carey hit the ball to second which was bobbled, allowing Baird to come home for the score and put Greenfield up, 3-1. Though the bases were loaded with no outs, it was the loan run Post 81 was able to score in the inning. 

Hu and Gladu opened the top of the sixth with back-to-back singles for Belchertown. Nate Mills came to the plate and hit a whistling grounder that made its way to left field. Greenfield’s Jacob Quinn was unable to make the initial play on the ball that allowed Hu and Gladu to both score and tie the game at 3-3. 

Ryan Zawistowski singled to put runners on first and third, and Jack Gelinas drove in Mills with a single to put Belchertown up, 4-3. 

Ryan Gaughan then hit a sacrifice fly that scored Zawistowski to put Post 239 up, 5-3. 

“They started hitting,” Luippold said. “We had an error that scored two runs. Take that play away and it’s a tie game going into the seventh. Tyler pitched a great game. He let up some hits but they’re good hitters and swing the bat. They made contact with the ball and we didn’t.” 

Westfield is a familiar opponent for Belchertown. Westfield walked away with a 6-4 win when the teams met earlier this season, and they had a second game rained out. 

“It’ll be fun to play those guys,” Mills said. “They’re a great team. For this program, they’ve never been this close to representing the district in the state. This is a really neat group of guys. They’ve really bonded together and it’s been a lot of fun.” 




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